Skip to comments.What Made The M16 Such A Great Rifle
Posted on 01/07/2021 9:55:26 AM PST by Onthebrink
Though the M16 rifle had a rocky start, it addressed a crucial need in the United States military: a fully automatic rifle that was both lightweight and controllable.
After the conclusion of the Second World War, drawbacks to the iconic M1 Garand design became apparent. Though the rifle benefitted from the powerful .30-06 cartridge, it was hindered by its low 8-round capacity and could fire in semi-automatic only. Though the rifle also served on the Korean Peninsula, its shortcomings were affirmed.
What the United States needed was a new, fully-automatic rifle.
(Excerpt) Read more at 19fortyfive.com ...
Simple it was adopted by the mayor world power.
I qualified as ‘expert’ marksman, 1967...js
We should have just used the AK-47. Was better, and would have saved us a lot of money in development and teething troubles.
It didn’t weigh much and lots of ammo for it could be carried without much effort. A perfect infantry platform.
And a poor shot like me could hit 58 out of 60 inside the ring (10 inch) makes it a great rifle.
It was a fine weapon, lightweight and easy to fire. I carried one every day for 4 years in the Air Force and even though I haven’t handled one in 40 years, I bet I could still strip it, clean it, put it back together, and do pretty decent at hitting my target.
The early models had a terrible tendency to jam. It was over-complicated and also over-sensitive to dust, mud, etc. (unlike the AK)
What the USA should have built was a “miniature” M1 rifle that would accept a 20-round magazine & in a cartridge of the size/power of the .250 Savage.
(By 1947, BERETTA was converting M1 Rifles to 7.62x51mm, which is VERY similar to the “old-school” .300 Savage cartridge).
The M16 sucks. On 2 occasions (firefights with the Viet Cong) it did not properly chamber the ammo properly and resulted in jams that put my life in danger.
It was the first step to arguably the most versatile individual rifle platform ever. The mil-spec standard is what created an industry that could support endless improvements for the user, including numerous cartridge/upper choices. Low recoil, huge choice of optics/sights, easy to maintain. Today’s versions are not the 60’s mattel guns.
That was as much the fault of the ammo they used initially.
We had to go thru foreign weapons training, the instructor dropped an AK in a mudhole picked it up, locked a magazine and fired thirty rounds down range.
If you look at the rifles that preceded it, you will see that when comparing the M-1 Carbine, the M-1 Garand and the M-14, that when we were in conflicts past WW2, the recoil of the M-1 Garand and the M-14 were considered too much for many soldiers to handle, especially,if fully automatic or burst fire was required. That is why the M1 Carbine was so popular especially in Vietnam with ARVIN troops of small build.
Likewise, in the era of the draft, the majority of the troops had little marksmanship experience. We were no longer a society of rural farm boys or muscular laborers and factory workers.
Why the M-16 became so popular was not the low capacity magazine or the heavy weight of the cartridges of the Garand or M-14, it was that fully auto or bust fire was the current military tactic and a 30-06 or .308 round (which required a heavy rifle) were to difficult for many of the soldiers of the day to accurately master.
That didn't mean that some could not attain a marksman's badge. It just meant that if you are standardizing on one rifle and ammo on a battle field for most of your troops including allies, you want something they can handle in a firefight.
You also need to understand that "Whiz Kid" Robert McNamara wanted one rifle to be used in all services for almost all soldiers. So the M-16 was to replace the M1/M2 carbine for something more deadly that could be given to truck drivers, clerks, etc. as well as serve as a main battle rifle.
Professional soldiers or those to trained like professional soldiers were a different story.
“The early models had a terrible tendency to jam.”
Yes, but that problem was for the most part corrected by 1968, and the remedy included better cleaning discipline. In any event, when I went in the military (1970) I think the jamming problem was pretty much in the past. Of course, that was little solace to the troops who had to use the M16 before the quirks were ironed out. I had some good friends who were in the Marines, and they LOVED the M-14, which the M-16 replaced; they were very sorry to see the M-14 retired. I like the M1A (the standard semi-auto only version of the M-14), but my favorite battle rifle was the M1 Garand (which I was only able to shoot for fun, as it was pretty much out of the standard inventory when I was in)). I’ve shot the M1 Garand many times over the years and I just love it (though I wouldn’t want to have to lug it around for any extended period of time! It gets heavy!).
The A1 version certainly did suck. The A2 version is a much better weapon, and one of the most accurate and ammo versatile platforms there is. Shooting HP competitions, I went from just barely making Master level for years, up to High Master almost overnight when I switched from Supermatch M14s to an AR15.
M14 for the win.
In ‘69 I qualified “Expert” on the M-14...”Sharpshooter” on the M-16. BCT was the first time I had ever *seen* a rifle,let alone fired one. I liked the M-14 much better than the M-16.But I suspect that if I had been 11 Bravo in the rice paddies I probably would have had a different attitude.
What a ridiculously crappy rifle.
They initially used the wrong powder in the ammunition.
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